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REPORTING · 1st December 2014
Walter McFarlane
With apologies for the delay on this article, this one kept getting backlogged during a busy time for other items.

There was a special presentation on October 20th to Kitimat Council by Daniel Martin from the Planning Department. The presentation was about the history of Kitimat’s town plan. He explained the town is guided by the 2008 community plan which is amended as they go.

“Kitimat is unique in the area that it was designed as a planned community. At the time that it was built, there was a master plan done by a famous planner named Clarence Stein who designed the town in 1952,” said Martin.

He told Council the planning department is looking at where they are now and where the town will be in the future and how it compares to 1952.

The town was planned to consist of a number of neighbourhoods, from A-J. The town was planned for 45,000 people.

Martin explained the A Neighbourhood was Nechako which would have a density of 5.1 families per gross acre and have a population of around 5400, assuming 4 people per family. Nechako closely follows the plan as well. It would have 1600 households.

Nechako today has 4.4 households per gross acre or 3100-3200 people. Martin told Council if the development takes place in Nechako, it would be bigger than in the 52 plan.

Kildala would have about 4.5 families per gross acre and require 1350 dwelling units. The plan for the Kildala Neighborhood was followed closely with a few exceptions. The biggest of which was Strawberry Meadows. Strawberry Meadows was left out of the analysis.

Martin explained the current density for Kildala is 3.5 households per gross acre or 8 people per acre. The current average household size is 2.5 people per household. With the potential development, currently proposed for Kildala, the population would jump to 4 households per gross acre.

He moved on to Whitesale, which he explained diverged the furthest from the plan from 1952. Martin explained there were plans for development where the golf course currently stands and there is development on land where it was not contemplated.

It was proposed for 4.5 families per gross acre or 1800 dwelling units and a population of 7200 people. However, it has 1560 dwelling units so it’s density is 2.6 households per gross acre and 3600 people. This makes it the least dense neighbourhood. If the proposed development went through, it would have a density of 3.1.

Martin final part of the presentation concerned what the composition of the units would be. 17.5% of all dwelling units would be apartments. 43% would be townhouses. There would be 22% duplexes. Single one story houses would be 17%.

He told Council there are cases where single family homes in Kitimat share a wall with a neighbour. This means currently, there are about 39-70% of homes are single family or duplexes. 16% are apartments+, 12% are townhouses. The apartments are looking to increase to 18%, townhouses would increase to 15% and single family homes would decrease to 59% of all units.

Councillor Mary Murphy asked if this included the rejected proposal. She was told it would not include the lots in Strawberry Meadows because they were not in the same footprint as Strawberry Meadows. She asked if there were supposed to be more row houses and apartments then what Kitimat has and the proposed projects would add the balance.

“I’d say the 52 plan would contemplate a more compact form of development, so a part of that thinking is that the goal would be to have a very walkable community where people live close to stores and services. A part of the way to do that would be to have people living very close together so they are all closer to the stores that are there,” said Martin.

He reminded her this presentation was a review of what things are and what they could look like.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff stated the plan was formed at the beginning of Kitimat and it has been followed as a garden city concept with a few significant deviations, such as Cablecar and Strawberry Meadows.

“Striking that balance I guess is something that will continue to be a challenge as developers put their ideas forward and the community gives us feedback as to what they’d like to see,” said Feldhoff.

Councillor Phil Germuth asked if Nechako neighbourhood would have more townhouses and apartments as it was the first part of Kitimat to be built quickly to get the construction going and other neighbourhoods would have singled or detached homes.

He was reminded this was a comparison but the Nechako neighbourhood was supposed to be higher density.

The original town plan by Clarence Stein is on the District of Kitimat Website

One topic which was not covered in the Council meeting was the make of Neighbourhood “D”, which was planned for where Strawberry Meadows is today. It was planned to have a density of 4.5 per acre and be 60% Single or detached housing, 20% twin, 10% group or row and 10% apartments.